Trump allies defy Speaker Mike Johnson and TANK reauthorization of controversial spy tool as Republican chaos continues: Former president urged GOP to ‘kill’ critical bill to thwart terrorist plots because program ‘illegally spied’ on his campaign in 2016

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • The so-called ‘compromise’ bill included new guardrails for FISA that hardliners said did not go far enough
  • Nineteen Republicans voted ‘no’ on the rule to advance the reauthorization of Section 702 in a major blow to Speaker Mike Johnson 

A key vote to advance reauthorization of a controversial spying tool failed on the House floor Wednesday after Donald Trump urged his allies to ‘kill’ it. 

The so-called ‘compromise’ bill included new guardrails for FISA that hardliners said did not go far enough. 


Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) has been credited for helping intelligence officers thwart terror attacks on U.S. soil, but has also been prone to abuse with spying on U.S. citizens. 

It was used to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in 2016 when he was suspected of communications with the Russians.  

It allows the U.S. government to surveil foreign nationals with suspected terror ties who are not on U.S. soil, even if the party on the other side of such communications is a U.S. national in America. 

Nineteen Republicans voted ‘no’ on the rule to advance the reauthorization of Section 702 in a major blow to Speaker Mike Johnson

Nineteen Republicans voted ‘no’ on the rule to advance the reauthorization of Section 702 in a major blow to Speaker Mike Johnson. 

All Democrats voted ‘no’ on the rule and typically always do so, even if they support the bill. 

The vote was 193-228. 

It was the seventh rule vote to fail this Congress, fourth under Speaker Mike Johnson.  A rule hadn’t failed in over 20 years before this Congress as the majority party usually didn’t resort to such tactics to paralyze House business. 

It was also the third attempt to renew and reform FISA that failed. 

Johnson shot back to Trump’s message ahead of the vote: ‘Trump used the intel from this program to kill terrorists.’ 

The speaker claimed the bill as it stands now ‘kills the abuses’ that took place under FISA in the past. 

He’s warned that if the compromise bill fails, the Senate will ‘jam’ the House with a clean reauthorization without oversight reforms before FISA’s expiration on April 19. 

House Republicans will huddle behind closed doors to discuss the path forward on FISA at 4 p.m. Wednesday. 

Johnson could bring the FISA bill back up under suspension – meaning he wouldn’t need all his Republicans to pass a rule but he would need two-thirds of the House to pass a final bill. 

This could further rankle Johnson’s detractors, and push them into the arms of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s motion to vacate threat. 

If Greene called her motion to vacate to the floor, there would be a vote to oust Johnson from the speakership that would only need a small handful of Republicans to sign on, if all Democrats again vote to boot a Republican speaker. 

One senior GOP aide told there is a ‘strong’ likelihood anti-FISA bill Republicans would embrace the motion to vacate [MTV] if Johnson put the bill back on the floor under suspension. 

‘Bringing it under suspension is another slap in the face to members who are already thinking about MTV.’

Hardliners on the right and left have become strange bedfellows over accusations that FISA has trampled on Americans’ civil liberties. 

They are advocating for an amendment that would require intelligence officers to get a warrant before picking up communications of any U.S. citizens who are talking with foreign nationals under suspicion. 

That amendment pits the Judiciary Committee and its allies against the Intelligence Committee and national security hawks who say the intel community should not be bogged down trying to get warrants when potential terror plots involve communications with Americans. 

If an intelligence officer queried Section 702 to pick up communications of a suspected terrorist, and they were talking with a U.S. citizen in the states, they would only be able to see the terrorists’ half of the conversation without a warrant to look at the U.S. national’s. 

Johnson said he would not whip members to vote one way or the other on the amendment requirement, but privately told people he opposes it. 

The House-led bill released last week would extend the program while also adding new changes that are meant to bolster oversight and training and ensure the program’s transparency. 

It won’t include an amendment from Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, barring federal agencies from buying information on Americans from private data companies, rankling conservative hardliners, but leadership said that could get a standalone vote this week. 

In March a compromise bill that was put together by negotiators on the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees was abruptly yanked from the House floor schedule over concerns from the Intel Committee over an amendment that would have forced law enforcement to seek a warrant before obtaining communications that involved a U.S. citizen.

A report from May 2023 detailed how the FBI used Section 702 to ‘query’ – or search – names of individuals who were suspected of being on the Capitol grounds during the January 6, 2021 riot, Black Lives Matters protestors, victims of crime and their families and donors to one congressional campaign. 

In total, the FBI misused Section 702 over 278,000 times – according to the document.

While many of Section 702’s uses remain classified, intelligence officials leaked late last year that they had used the controversial tool to thwart weapons sales to Iran. 

The CIA and other intelligence agencies had used information gathered through monitoring the electronic communications of foreign weapons manufacturers and stopping several shipments of advanced weapons to Iran. 

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